Servant-Leadership and Trust
June 30, 2017 blog

What does it mean when we trust someone? Or when that trust is broken? We probably all understand trust on a gut level without thinking too much about it. A friend of mine, a teacher, says that trust is earned over time rather than given freely without cause.  To show how we can earn trust in our relationships, researcher Brené Brown breaks down the core components of trust in her “Anatomy of Trust” and its acronym, BRAVING.


B = Boundaries – respecting yours and having my own;


R = Reliability, being both reliable and authentic;


A = Accountability – I own my mistakes, apologize, and make amends;


V = Vault: what I share with you, you will hold in confidence (and I do the same with you!); no gossiping; respect confidentiality;


I = Integrity – choosing courage over comfort; choosing what’s right over what’s fun, easy or fast; practicing my values, not only just professing my values;


N = Non-judgement & reciprocity, offering and asking for help. Not thinking less of myself for needing help, otherwise I’ll judge others for asking me for help; and


G = Generosity – believing the best in the other even when they disappoint me (vs. being a victim).


Breaking down trust into more concrete terms makes it easier to understand it. I trust you because you reliably show up when you say you will. I trust you because you choose what’s right over what’s fun, fast, or easy. I trust you because you know how to ask for help.


My teacher friend exhibits BRAVING in her work and life.  She is known for holding students (and herself) accountable and for her integrity: She chooses what is right even when it’s difficult or unpopular.


Servant-leaders and servant-leader organizations keep communication open in order to build up trust: They operate from a place of reliability, accountability, integrity, and generosity.

Mark Elberfeld, President

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